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Israeli court orders state to justify wall on Palestinian Christians' land
05 February 2014 10:31 by Abigail Frymann Rouch

Israel's Supreme Court on Monday ordered the Israeli state to explain the route of a planned separation wall in Beit Jala's Cremisan valley near Bethlehem that would deprive 58 Christian families of their land, according to the Palestinian news agency Ma'an and the Israeli daily Haaretz.

In a case brought on behalf of 58 landowners and a Salesian convent and monastery, the court gave the state until 10 April to justify why it could not alter the wall’s proposed course. The court ordered that all construction on the separation wall be halted until the Israeli state responds to the request.

"If you look at where we started from when we entered the court with little hope for anything and now we have the situation where they have to justify the wall, it looks very promising," Anica Heinlein, an advocacy officer for the Society of St. Yves, which represents the nuns, told Ma'an.

The Israeli Supreme Court set a hearing for 30 July to discuss the response of the Israeli state and responses to it by Beit Jala residents.

The Holy Land Co-ordination, an international group of Catholic bishops mandated by the Holy See, warned before the 29 January hearing that the wall would destroy vineyards, groves and orchards and separate them from their land.